Tag Archives: Iceland

this day in the yesteryear: Last Pair of Great Auks Killed (1844)


Last Pair of Great Auks Killed (1844)

Extinct since 1844, the great auk was a flightless seabird once found in great numbers on rocky islands off eastern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Ireland, and Britain. The bird was hunted on a significant scale by humans for food, eggs, and down since at least the 8th century, but massive exploitation for its down and the collecting of its eggs eventually contributed to the demise of the species. Specimens are now exhibited in many museums. Where was the last pair of great auks killed? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: St. Thorlak’s Day (2014)


St. Thorlak’s Day (2014)

Thorlak Thorhalli (1133-1193) was born in Iceland and, after being educated abroad, returned there to become bishop of Skalholt in 1177 or 1178. He was canonized by the Icelandic parliament five years after his death. His day traditionally marks the climax of Christmas preparations for Icelanders. It is associated with housecleaning, as well as the preparation of special foods. The hangiket, or smoked mutton, for Christmas was usually cooked on this day, and, in the western fjords, the smell of skate hash cooked on St. Thorlak’s Day is still considered a harbinger of the holiday season. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Thjodhatid


Thjodhatid

Thjodhatid is a three-day “people’s feast” celebrated in the Vestmannaeyjar area (or Westmann Islands) of Iceland. The festival commemorates the granting of Iceland’s constitution on July 1, 1874; because of foul weather, the island people of Vestmannaeyjar weren’t able to attend the mainland celebration, so they held their own festival at home a month later. Most of the festivities take place on Heimaey Island. Enormous bonfires are built, and there are sporting events, dancing, singing, eating and drinking. People come from the mainland for this event, so the island is filled with campers. More… Discuss

Sjomannadagurtoday’s holiday:


Sjomannadagur

Sjomannadagur is a day honoring the role that fishing and fishermen have played in Icelandic history, celebrated in the coastal towns and cities of Iceland. Sailors take the day off, and the Seaman’s Union sponsors many events, such as competitions in rowing and swimming, tugs-of-war and sea rescue competitions. Celebrations begin with a church service and a trip to the local cemetery to honor sailors lost at sea. Afterward there are children’s parades, dances, outdoor cookouts, and bonfires in the evening. The proceeds from the day’s events go to the national fund that supports old seamen’s homes. More… Discuss

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THIS DAY IN THE YESTERYEAR: FAEROE ISLANDS GAIN HOME RULE (1948)


Faeroe Islands Gain Home Rule (1948)

The Faeroe Islands are a group of volcanic islands first settled by Irish monks circa 700 CE and colonized by Vikings about a century later. Since 1380, the islands have been under Danish rule. After World War II, the Faeroese sought independence, but the Danish king blocked any chance of this by dissolving the Faeroese parliament following a 1946 referendum in which residents voted for independence. Two years later, they were granted self-government. Where in the world are the Faeroe Islands? More… Discuss

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News: OOPS! SCIENTISTS KILLED OLDEST KNOWN LIVING CREATURE


Oops! Scientists Killed Oldest Known Living Creature

Scientists hoping to gain new insights into the agingprocess turned their attention to the long-lived clamspecies Arctica islandica in 2006, dredging the coastal waters off of Iceland for specimens. Their efforts resulted in the discovery of Ming the clam, which, as they later found out, was the oldest living animal ever found. Unfortunately, in order to make this determination, the researchers had to open its shell, killing it. Once they counted the shell’s growth rings, they concluded that Ming had been between 405 and 410 years old. However, a new, more detailed analysis adds another century to the earlier estimate, placing the bivalve’s age at 507. More… Discuss